Every so often, your website is due for an upgrade. Maybe you’re considering redesigning your site because it looks like it was built before the first iPhone came out, or maybe it’s in need of a brand refresh. Either way, you’ve come to the right place.
Successful website redesign projects begin well before the design stage. Whether this is an in-house project, or you’re working with an agency (like us!) to transform your site into something you’re proud of, this checklist will save you a lot of headaches down the road. Use it to prepare for the redesign and help you avoid common pitfalls and roadblocks along the way.
1. Evaluate your current website
Before your start planning what your new website will look like, it’s important to first examine your existing website. Determine what it is you like and dislike about the current site. Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of fellow employees, shareholders, and current customers to get a well-rounded view of what’s working and what isn’t. Conduct a comprehensive review of the site including technical parameters such as content, design, navigation, lead generation strategy, and SEO.
Related: Digital Marketing Grader
Use our Digital Marketing Grader to determine what aspects of your online marketing efforts you’re succeeding at and what you should spend time improving.
2. Benchmark existing performance metrics
In order to measure the success of your newly redesigned website, you’ll need to know where you started from. Before you move any further into the redesign process, document your current site’s performance metrics over its history in order to determine appropriate benchmarks. Consider tracking important metrics such as:
- Visits/visitors/unique visitors
- Bounce rate
- Time on site
- Current SEO rankings for important keywords
- Domain authority
- Number of new leads/form submissions
- Total amount of sales generated
3. Identify key reasons for redesign
If you’re considering a website redesign, there needs to be a good reason for it. Using the data gathered from steps one and two, determine what problems you want this website redesign to solve. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, build customer loyalty, or convert more visitors into leads? Answering this question will ultimately influence every aspect of the strategy going forward and ensure that everyone is working toward the same outcome.
4. Set specific and measureable goals
Now that you know the reasons for redesigning your website, translate those reasons into actionable goals. What does success look like to you and how can it be measured? Prioritize key objectives and tie them to a specific success metric such as “to increase site traffic by 30% in the next six months.” While a website redesign alone can’t guarantee results, it is a solid jumping off point to build other key marketing activities around.
5. Analyze your competition
Assessing your competitors online is a great way to identify ways you can improve and things you can do differently than them. Start by determining who the top three competitors are in your market that regularly rank for the same keywords that describe your business. Take a look at their websites and make note of what you like and dislike. Use this information not to replicate exactly what they are doing, but to identify things you can do better.
6. Identify your Unique Selling Proposition
After analyzing the competition, you should have a better idea of what makes you different. This is known as your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). It’s important to communicate your USP through your website so that new visitors can quickly grasp who you are, what you do, and why they should ultimately stay on your site. Identifying your USP is critical step that will influence content across your entire site going forward, especially on your homepage and other high traffic pages.
7. Identify your target audiences
Digging into who your target audiences are will help you create a website that truly speaks their language. Start by creating buyer personas, which are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal attitudes, values, and concerns. Be sure to add as much detail as possible, so that you and ultimately the design team can imagine your ideal prospect and tailor the site to meet their needs. Name, age, gender, income, lifestyle characteristics, and value drivers are just a few details you may include when crafting buyer personas.
Related: Free Persona Template
Our free, customizable persona template will let you easily organize your research to create your very own personas. With this template you can create well-formatted personas that you can share with your entire company.
8. Conduct an SEO audit
There’s no use in a newly designed website if no one can find it. As you prepare for the redesign, don’t forget to document any high performing keywords you currently rank for and the associated webpages on your current site. In the event these pages are moved, it’s important to create 301 redirects so you don’t lose any of that SEO value. Think about the words people currently use to find your website and craft your redesign strategy around them.
9. Identify calls-to-action
While design is certainly important, functional requirements such as calls-to-action have the power to make your website more engaging for users and increase conversions. Rather than remaining static, your website should prompt visitors to do something that further engages them with your brand. When planning for redesign, think about all of the possible opportunities for conversion. Sample calls-to-action include:
- eBooks and whitepapers
- Contests and promotions
- Product purchases
- Email newsletter subscription
- Free trial
- Contact us
10. Create an ongoing content strategy
Constantly updating your site with relevant content will benefit not only your customers, but also your SEO rankings. Document your most shared or viewed content, most trafficked pages, and the number of inbound links to individual pages on your current site. Use this data along with your keyword research to determine a content strategy for your new site. Keep in mind what types of actions your prospects take online at each stage of the buyer’s journey and make sure you have relevant content for each stage. Often overlooked, this step is essential prior to a redesign because it will help you determine where this content will live on your site and what functionality is required for you to deliver and update it regularly.
11. Define functional requirements
Start by listing every feature you’d like your new website to have. Then, carefully consider which features will help you meet or exceed your website goals and the needs and preferences of your website visitors. Categorize these features by importance in order to determine which are needs, wants, and would simply be nice to have if the budget allows. Features to consider include:
- Basic HTML or HTML5/CSS3 website
- Responsive design
- Newsletter system
- Social network integration
- Intranet system
- Dedicated landing pages
- Video streaming
- Search panel
- Online payment gateway
- Customer login
- Information/request forms
Related: Adaptive vs. Responsive Web Design: What’s the Difference?
You have two choices for creating a great website user experience: adaptive and responsive web design. But which is best for your business?
12. Pinpoint how you will handle the site after redesign
Before any redesign project, it’s a good idea to determine the level of control you and your team will need over the site once it’s completed. A content management system (CMS) will give technical and non-technical staff the ability to easily modify your site. Because there are a variety of CMS platforms available, it’s a good idea to do your research early on and identify the types of content you’d like the ability to modify, the pages on your site you want access to, and whether or not you need the ability to add or remove pages without assistance. This will help ensure that your CMS is a good fit after the site’s launch.
13. Collect website assets
One of the main factors that influences the speed of a website redesign is how quickly all needed assets can be gathered. The earlier you decide who will be responsible for providing key content and materials, the easier it will be to get the project off the ground. Materials needed include:
- Brand style guide and logos
- Web page copy
- Contact information
14. Determine a budget and timeline for the project.
After completing the above items, you should have a pretty good idea of the size and scope of your website redesign project. Now it’s time to think about what your budget and timeline for the project is. Consider the goals you want to accomplish, the functional requirements needed, and the time it will take to gather all website assets. Having a baseline established for how much the project should cost and when you need the final product by will prove helpful when choosing a team to give your website a makeover.
Redesigning a website is a complex task, but understanding the right process can go a long way towards making it manageable. After following this checklist, you’ll be well on your way to a more successful website redesign. The next step is to ensure you have the right team in place to execute your well-thought out strategy. If you’re not exactly sure how to write a website redesign request for proposal (RFP), we’ve written a detailed blog post on the topic.